Like most shows in their fourth season, Once Upon a Time’s ratings have slowly declined each year. But proving that Frozen is a force to be reckoned with, the series received a ratings boost during the first half. When Elsa arrives in Storybrook, she is hunted down as a villain. But she and Emma soon find that they have a lot in common when someone from both of their pasts turns out to be the one responsible. It’s up to Emma to help Elsa defeat their foe and save Anna before time runs out.
The second half of the season took a ratings dive and initially looked hard to follow with Maleficent returning along with Cruela De Vil and Ursula. But fans who stuck around were treated to a Once Upon a Time spin on Disneyland’s nighttime spectacular Fantasmic, where a team of villains unite to get their happy ending. Fans who felt the show lost its way during the Frozen arc were pleased to see the series return to form by the end with a clear vision of where it is heading in season five.
Once Upon a Time continues to be the only current ABC series that Disney cares to release on Blu-Ray. On August 18th, fans can relive all 23 episodes of season four with this high-definition 5-disc set, featuring exclusive bonus features. It will also be available on DVD that same day.
Note: Disney has dropped the “Season Play” feature that made it easier for multiple members of your house to keep track of where they are while watching the Blu-Ray.
Once Upon a Time looks fantastic on Blu-Ray. While seeing it in its purest HD form does reveal some of the special effects flaws, it also reveals all of the details of the magnificent costumes and sets. It looks substantially better here than it does via HD Cable.
The show is presented on Blu-Ray in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Most of the sound mixing comes from the front channels, but occasionally the spectacular action sequences utilize the full sound field and subwoofer.
Most of the bonus features are found on Disc 5, but with commentaries on select episodes, I’ve broken down the bonus features by disc.
- Audio Commentary: A Tale of Two Sisters – Georgina Haag (Elsa), Jennifer Morrison (Emma) and series creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz lead this discussion about the challenges of bringing Frozen to Storybrook in the season premiere and also the details that setup the overall season’s story.
- Audio Commentary: Family Business – Writers Andrew Chambliss and Kalinda Vazquez discuss the challenges of writing for a series with so many characters.
- Audio Commentary: Poor Unfortunate Soul – This episode’s director Steve Pearlman and Collin Donoghue (Hook) discuss Ursula’s entry into the series with this episode.
- Audio Commentary: Sympathy for the De Vil – David H. Goodman (executive producer/writer) and Jerome Schwartz (co-producer/writer) discuss how they came up with Cruela’s origin story and how they brought her to life in the show.
- Defrosting Frozen (9:56) – The cast explains how they brought Frozen into the show and why they love it.
- Behind the Magic (9:58) – Ginnifer Goodwyn and Josh Dallas lead this hilarious tour through the sets of Storybrook.
- Three Who Stayed (5:23) – Patton Oswald and a few other actors play characters who didn’t flee Storybrook when it froze in this documentary about why they stayed.
- The Fairest Bloopers of Them All (4:56) – A reel of some pretty funny bloopers from this season.
- Deleted Scenes (26:00) – 16 deleted scenes are presented as a Play All feature or individually. The scenes are:
- Time Will Tell
- Friends Forever?
- Just Like Everyone Else
- Chasing Happy Endings
- Laundry and Tea Cakes
- Magic Cake
- Camp Site
- Good Boy
- Things Can Change
- The Lonely Author
- The Babysitter
- The Ice Cream Lady
- No Deal
- A Cow Named Nan
- Empty Chairs a Empty Diners
- We Can Fix It!
- Audio Commentary: Mother – Writer Jane Espenson and Lana Parilla (Regina) talk about why Regina episodes are the best ones and give great insight into this episode.
The DVD contains all of these bonus features except for the audio commentaries and deleted scenes, which are Blu-Ray exclusives.
Packaging & Design
Once Upon a Time Season Four is housed in a Blu-Ray case capable of holding 5 discs on hinges. It’s the same size case as the previous releases and the layout is consistent as well. The case is housed in a foil embossed slipcover. My review dopy did not have a lenticular cover, but Season Three was released with both a lenticular cover and a standard cover, so this doesn’t necessarily mean a lenticular cover doesn’t exist for this. There are no inserts inside the case. Disc 1 opens with ads for Once Upon a Time and Scandal.
Once Upon a Time Season Four combines Frozen with Fantasmic to tell two complete story arcs in one season. Both of them will surprise you in the end, becoming more interesting than they appear at first glance. This Blu-Ray set is a wonderful release with worthwhile bonus features an amazing picture quality. Fans of this series won’t want to miss this.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.